One of the biggest benefits of building a new home at Soleil is being able to customize it in your own way. What’s even better is the team who helps you through process. Whether you’ve already met them or not, we wanted to introduce you to Lisa Szeder and Jenna Gray who head up our Design Center. These ladies are are the energetic, dynamic duo that beautifully orchestrate all your home design details at Soleil — and they make the process a lot of fun. Lisa is the design center manager and Jenna is an accomplished design consultant.
We were able to steal a few minutes of this mother / daughter design duo’s time last week to talk to us about how they got started, what they love most about their work, and a ton more.
How did you get interested in design?
Lisa: “I’ve always had a passion for design and that passion ended up turning into a profession that I love. Years ago, I used to work with three of my best friends at The Decorating Center in downtown Woodstock, but then I came to Soleil Laurel Canyon right from the time that the community broke ground. That was back in 2005. I’ve always enjoyed my work at Soleil and have been here ever since. Jenna has been working here much of that time, only leaving to go to school and then to have her beautiful baby girl.”
Tell us about the design process that a new Soleil homeowner can expect?
Lisa: “For us, the design process is the most fun part of buying a new house at Soleil. New clients come to our Design Center here on site, and we spend time together learning about their wishes and desires to create a home of their dreams. Then we customize almost everything to match what they envision — from light switch plates, to cabinets, to rain gutter colors, even the grout on the exterior. It’s all done here, “in-house” in an easy, comfortable, yet exciting way.”
Jenna: “We really like to make the process as non-overwhelming as possible. We know and understand that this new house is likely the homeowner’s “forever home” and that they want to have things they’ve always wanted to be incorporated in it. But they also want to stay within a certain budget. We take a lot of pride in achieving both for them.”
What has been your favorite part of your work?
Jenna: “I love helping to create awesome curb appeal for every home, so choosing all the complementary exterior finishes is my favorite part. I really enjoy making all those big and little details tie together beautifully.”
Lisa: “In the Design Center we have a neutral area that we call the “Inspiration Wall.” It’s where we stage everything the client loves. Their favorite hardwoods, tile, cabinets, mosaics, mirror wraps, faucets and more — we put it all on the “Inspiration Wall” so we can physically see how it all comes together. It’s exciting for our clients …and for us too. We have a vast selection of design choices, so it’s fun to see how each client can create their own unique style for every part of their new home.”
When it comes to your work at Soleil, what has been the most rewarding part of it?
Lisa: “We grow close to new buyers at Soleil and make an effort to build warm relationships with them. We get to know their personality and enjoy making them feel comfortable here. It’s all to help them make their house into a home. When we achieve that, I find it to be the most rewarding part of what I do.”
Jenna: “I’ve met a lot of wonderful people who have moved to Soleil from other parts of the country. They came here not knowing a soul! But after moving to Soleil, I’ve watched them make tons of new friends and love their new lifestyle here. Seeing their success and happily enjoying their new home has been very rewarding for me.”
What things do you do to maintain your creative edge or keep you inspired?
Lisa: “I love keeping up with all the new trends. In fact, we recently remodeled and expanded the entire Design Center. We’ve redesigned all of the model homes as well. Everything is fresh and new, and we used a lot of clean and neutral tones in those spaces. I’m especially proud of the revamped Design Center. The way it looks and functions with all the latest and greatest styles is inspiring. Also, we have relationships with reps who show us all the new and exciting things coming to market. We get to see the best of the best — the latest technology in everything from flooring to faucets, the newest color palettes, and more. It’s fun staying on top of the trends, but we also love the allure of timeless design too.”
Jenna: “We also both get inspired by online social sites like Pinterest and Instagram. We love all the design magazines and TV shows like Fixer Upper which supplies us with a lot of compelling design ideas.”
What is your favorite design tip?
Lisa: “At Soleil, the kitchen islands are enormous, so I believe it’s the best place to start a smart, cohesive design. After all, the kitchen is the heart of the home and where everyone congregates! Deciding on your island countertop first is a great way to kick off an appealing interior design that ties the entire house together.”
Jenna: “I think that a lot of people get too caught up in trends and then struggle with their design decisions as a result. So my favorite tip is to tell clients to focus only on what they love, not on what’s trending. If they stick to what they truly admire, I find they are much happier with the results.”
What is a random, interesting fact about you?
Lisa: “In an effort to simplify my life, I downsized from a huge 5000 sq ft house to a small 1100 sq ft cottage on Lake Arrowhead. I’m so happy I did it. It is, without a doubt, one of the best decisions I made in my life.”
Jenna: “I’m a vegetarian! I also adore peanut butter. Before I had my daughter, I had a fun side business selling homemade, gourmet nut butters. It’s called “PBbyJ” and I created some really interesting flavors, including a coffee flavor, another made with walnuts and cranberries, and one called “Chunky Bluebird” which has blueberries in it. Even though things are on hold with that business right now, I’m still enthusiastic about it, and I plan on reviving it as a side-gig in the future.”
Want to meet our Design Center team for yourself? Plan your visit to Soleil Laurel Canyon today.